How to Stay On Top of Your Personal Finances
Personal finances can be a scary topic to tackle especially when you are unprepared and unsure of where to start when trying to make a change. It can feel quite daunting to rid yourself of old habits that did little to help your fiscal responsibilities, but small changes can be enough to improve your abilities to stay on top of your personal finances. From managing your spending with a detailed budget to learning the best way to invest your money and efforts, this article will discuss a few new habits to instill in your daily routine. Whether you want save some income for a big life purchase or you just want to maintain control over your financial future, it’s never too late or to intimidating to begin your journey and hone your money saving skills.
Keep Track of Your Spending
The easiest way to take control of your finances is to start keeping track of what you are spending and, just as importantly, what you are saving. Without a realistic idea of what is going in and out of your accounts then there is not sure way to understand your bad habits and how to improve them. Maybe your flaw is too much expensive coffee, or simply splurging more often than saving. It could even be that you enjoy a little bit too much retail therapy, more than your wallet can handle. Regardless what the reasons are, staying aware is the best way to combat them and stat afloat if (and when) you are going through a significant life transition.
Make a Budget
Once you have a clear idea of where your money is going you are better able to create a budget that will cater to your lifestyle. There are apps that you can keep on your smartphone capable of tracking your expenses or you can opt for a simpler option which is to keep an excel spreadsheet of your monthly spending. You can fill it in every day or week and it will show you a realistic overview of where your money is going every time you take out your debit card. It can be easy to brush any unnecessary expenses under the rug, but by forcing yourself to document them on a regular basis they become that much harder to ignore. Budgeting is especially useful for when you are trying to save up as much as you can in a short period of time because it does not allow any leeway for casual spending.
Make Savings Goals
As soon as you have taken the initiative to create a budget that you can stick to, you are now able to make some realistic savings goals. It can be quite discouraging to envision where you want your finances to be in a few months’ time when looking at your current situation, so by committing to a strict deadline for your goals it can make the process feel much more rewarding as you watch yourself getting closer to them. Maybe you are trying to save up for a home or even trying to chip away at your debt, getting rid of it completely by the end of the year. Whatever final goal you have in mind, it can only be attained as soon as you make your intentions clear to yourself and stick to a specific spending plan.
If you ask anyone what the best thing to do with your income is, they will most likely tell you to invest it. Reallocating your money into something that can give you a return in the future is a simple way to make more with what you’ve got. Some people opt to play it safe and invest in traditional stocks, while others like to dabble in unchartered territory and take a leap of faith by investing in up-and-coming markets. Whatever route you decide to take should allow you to feel comfortable with where you are placing your money and confident enough to form a back up plan in case it does not end as well as you hoped.
Prepare for Good and Bad Scenarios
Receiving a paycheck for the first time, or after an irresponsible spending binge, can feel incredibly rewarding and exciting, however, should not be taken for granted. You should always be setting aside some of your income for good and bad situations that can arise suddenly. It could be an impromptu getaway with a few friends that would cost a bit more than you were planning on, or a necessary, but expensive, medical procedure that you didn’t see coming. These types of situations should be taken into account when you decide where your most recent paycheck should be spent and whether it should be spent at all.
Automate Your Savings
With today’s technology it is almost unthinkable that you should have to physically deposit money into different accounts, potentially forgetting to on busy days or when you are sick. A great way to forgo the added stress of remembering to add a certain amount into your savings account every month is by automating this task through your online banking. Set a realistic amount that you think will benefit you and not leave you feeling desolate and schedule it to be transferred into your savings account. It can be whenever you receive your paycheck or at the end/ beginning of every month. This way you are at least making a passive effort towards controlling your finances for the future.